by Sharon Florentine

How career mobility programs improve retention

Nov 22, 2016
CareersIT LeadershipIT Skills

Enterprises are experimenting with internal career mobility programs that allow workers to test drive new roles in the hopes of boosting engagement and productivity.

New research from HR executive network and research firm Future Workplace reveals that companies are increasingly investing in career mobility programs to improve employee engagement, productivity and teamwork.

The Future Workplace Forecast: Navigating the Future of Work surveyed 2,147 global HR leaders and hiring managers and highlighted an emerging trend: Employers are offering internal career mobility opportunities to allow employees to “test drive” new roles and prepare them for the future workplace, according to the research.

For businesses, these internal mobility programs provide a way to help employees with flexibility and career growth and development while stemming the turnover rate; employees get to add skills and experience to their resume without job-hopping, says Jeanne Meister, founding partner, Future Workplace, and co-author of The Future Workplace Experience: 10 Rules for Mastering Disruption in Recruiting and Engaging Employees, a book based on the results of the research study.

“We’re seeing these internal career mobility programs crop up in a lot of places, and they’re a great way for employees to further their education and training from within an organization, as well as for companies looking to retain valuable talent and help them grow in their careers,” Meister says.

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Internal talent market

What do these programs look like? They’re virtual talent marketplaces that exist within larger organizations, and match available roles with existing employees’ skillsets and experience, says Meister. Two examples include Cisco’s Talent Cloud and MasterCard’s Smart Steps, which post available projects and then encourage employees from every area of the company to contribute.

“The analogy is to career planning departments within universities that let students see what it’s like to be in certain careers to help inform their decisions. So, if I’m in marketing right now, for instance, but I’m interested in data science, I might fill out an application within this marketplace, talk to my manager about how I could contribute, and see how my current skills would fit in with that role. Then, I’d do some job shadowing in data science, or even take on a few ‘stretch’ assignments within the new role to see what it involves,” Meister says.

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Stop the job hop

These programs are increasingly important for companies that don’t want to risk losing elite talent but that recognize employees’ desire to further their career paths and improve their knowledge, Meister says. They’re also important for engagement, productivity and retention, according to the research.

Forty-nine percent of survey respondents say offering career mobility programs will increase employee engagement, 39 percent say these programs will improve employee productivity and 39 percent say they will improve employee teamwork, the research reports. Career mobility programs also allow companies to increase their engagement levels, while stemming job hopping — at least, external job hopping, Meister says.

“If you have a star in your department, your biggest fear is that the person is going to leave. But the argument for these programs is that, unless you give them room to grow and explore, that person is going to leave anyway. It’s much better for the company as a whole to have those folks growing and learning and contributing within the company,” Meister says.

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In addition, career mobility programs are a key differentiator for companies that are seen as “best places to work,” according to the research. Seventy-six percent of individuals surveyed say career mobility leads to positive outcomes in their organization.

“Employers recognize that winning in the future workplace and being an employer of choice for candidates requires them to grow and broaden employee’s skills not just through formal learning, but by exposing employees to a myriad of new jobs and roles inside the company,” Meister says.

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